Music & the Shopping Experience: Encourage Shoppers to Browse, Buy

Great products and competitive prices are keys to keeping customers in your store, but the type of music you play and its volume are also important factors. Successful retailers have atmosphere basics like this down to a science. In fact, a great deal of research has been conducted on this subject. Here are a few tips on tailoring your soundtrack to your type of establishment.

Research Findings

According to the University of California in Santa Barbara, the specific type of background music a store or restaurant plays directly affects how much shoppers will spend. In general, music with a slower tempo encourages people to buy more, as well as eat more in restaurants. On the contrary, louder songs were found to encourage consumers to work their way through a supermarket as quickly as possible. Interestingly, when stores played music that shoppers enjoyed, they reported a shorter wait time in line.

Age is also a factor on how music impacts a customer. The Association for Consumer Research notes that shoppers ages 25 to 49 tend to stay longer and buy more when attention-grabbing foreground music is played, whereas people ages 50 and older purchase more when stores play softer, more mellow background music.

With this in mind, be mindful about the demographics of your typical customer, as well as what you are selling. Consider the following examples.

Neighborhood Coffeehouse

Most coffeehouses provide an atmosphere that encourages people to linger while socializing, working or reading a book. These activities go well with pleasant and soft background music from a service like Shutterstock. Owners who want their customers to return to their coffee shop won’t go wrong with jazz music as well as upbeat classical and some pop. While having local musicians come in to play from time to time is a nice way to encourage new visitors and attract an occasional crowd, in general, lower tempo tunes will sustain more business.

Teen Clothing Store

Retailers that cater to teen shoppers can generally get away with playing pop and rock music at slightly louder levels, but be careful about keeping the volume reasonable. Loud music, even tunes that teens love, will influence shoppers of all ages to make their purchases as quickly as possible and leave the store. This is why fast food restaurants tend to be so loud—they want their customers to order, eat and make way for the next patrons. While playing current tracks in the foreground will not prevent teens from coming in and buying what they need, it may cut down on the amount of browsing and making spontaneous purchases.

Upscale Boutiques

Higher-end stores that focus on a specific type of food or product—think wine and cheese or boutique women’s clothing—are ideal for classical music played at a lower volume. Shoppers listening to Grieg and Beethoven instead of Gaga and Bieber were found to stay longer and spend more in this type of establishment. In general, consumers respond the best to low tempo instrumental background music.

Photo Credit: Social Monsters with permission to use. 

The Interbike International Bicycle Exposition Welcomes the Independent Retailer Conference

Parker, CO (March 25, 2015) – The largest annual gathering of bicycle industry professionals in North America, the Interbike International Bicycle Exposition, will welcome the Independent Retailer Conference at their upcoming September 2015 expo.

Joining Interbike on September 16 & 17, 2015, in Las Vegas, the Independent Retailer Conference is dedicated to delivering education-rich, action-packed events uniquely for independent retailers. The addition of the Independent Retailer Conference at Interbike will mark the first time Interbike and the Independent Retailer Conference have worked together in an effort to expand educational opportunities for Interbike attendees.

The Interbike International Bicycle Expo has always been committed to supporting our attendees with quality education, and the Independent Retailer Conference helps us in supporting this goal. We look forward to welcoming them for the first time this September, and are excited about the experts and retail supporters they will introduce to our attendees,” shares Justin Gottlieb, Director of Communications & PR for the Interbike International Bicycle Exposition

The annual Interbike International Bicycle Exposition is where the bicycle industry gathers to to celebrate and conduct the business of cycling – as well as educate their attendees on all things necessary to operate their businesses. Approximately 92% of their 25K plus attendees are independent retailers, with these same stores having five stores or less. All of their attendees, however, are passionate about learning, engaging and being the best at their game… both on and off their bike seats.

We’re thrilled to work with the Interbike team to help deliver an engaging, educational experience for their show attendees. We have some exciting speakers lined up and look forward to creating a dynamic experience unique to this crowd,” shares Kerry Bannigan, Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. 

The Independent Retailer Conference is dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of retail small business owners. Their education-rich, action-packed events have previously taken place at ASD Market Week, the Sports, Licensing & Tailgate Show and the Craft & Hobby Association’s MEGA SHOW, as well as at their own at freestanding, flagship Independent Retailer Conference experiences. Their new partnership with the Interbike International Bicycle Exposition introduces the Independent Retailer Conference to a niche market of independent retailers they look forward to supporting.

About the Independent Retailer Conference

The Independent Retailer Conference is the nation’s leading retail conference dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of independent store owners. Founded by industry veterans Nicole Leinbach Reyhle of Retail Minded & Kerry Bannigan of Nolcha Fashion Week, the Independent Retailer Conference offers independent retailers the chance to engage, learn, and connect with industry leaders while also getting inspired from retail experts, service providers and like-minded retailers from across the nation.

About the Interbike International Bicycle Exposition

The Interbike International Bicycle Exposition, a subsidiary of Emerald Expositions, is the largest bicycle trade event in North America, bringing together manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of cycling. Established in 1982, the show gathers more than 1,200 cycling-related brands, over 25,000 total attendees annually and is considered one of the most important global trade events for the bicycle industry. Interbike is one of 90 premier trade events owned and operated by Emerald Expositions, a leading producer of large business-to-business tradeshows. Emerald Expositions, based in San Juan Capistrano, CA produces shows and conference events globally that connect more than 525,000 buyers and sellers across nine diversified end-markets. Markets covered include general merchandise, sports, hospitality and retail design, jewelry, photography, decorated apparel, building, healthcare and military. To learn more, please click here. 


# # #

What Indie Retailers Can Learn From Independent Restaurants

Here at Retail Minded we not only shop indie, we eat indie as well. We’ve had some fantastic meals at independent restaurants over the  years, and it made us start to think… what lessons could indie retailers learn from their food business siblings?

Retail Minded talked with three indie restaurateurs to learn more. Steven Hamile of Vine on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Chef Dino Lubbat of Ristorante Dinotto in Chicago, Illinois and Beth Black of FOODE in Fredericksburg, Virginia, shared the thoughts and practices that have propelled them to great success and strong presences in their communities.

Attitude Really is Everything

Each person we spoke to emphasized that your mindset toward your business has a significant contribution to your success. Lubbat at Dinotto keeps one idea central in how he and his staff approach their business.

My attitude is that the restaurant is an extension of my own kitchen, and I treat customers like they are guests in my own home. When they come here it is just an extension of our hospitality at home. It is the biggest, yet most simple thing to remember,” shared Lubbat.

At Vine, Hamile keeps his sights set high.

Perfection is attainable if it is economically feasible. We remove items or eliminate things if we can’t execute them perfectly because we have a love, a passion and a pride in what we do.  You can’t succeed without remembering that every dish that goes out and every customer interaction is an expression of you,” Hamile stated.  

Black at FOODE is driven by a concept of approach-ability.

Great food should be accessible to everyone in a relaxed atmosphere. As a result of the recent economic downturn, we thought outside of the box to put most of our money where it’s most important to us, which is on the plate,” Black shares. 

Your Employees are Stand-Ins…

… for you, that is. They represent your brand when you aren’t there. All three restaurateurs had strong statements when it came to the hiring, training, and discipline of their respective staffs. Hamile eschews some traditional industry hiring practices. “One of my core philosophies is how I hire based on honesty and integrity. Anyone can be taught a trade, but you can’t teach honesty. Next I look for personality and people who are career industry people who enjoy the art of being a professional waiter.” He continues to explain how he invests in teaching his staff.  “I train from the bottom, up. Everyone starts as a dishwasher because that’s the most important role, really, in a restaurant.  Without a dishwasher, there is no service. Then I train staff as food runners and bussers for an extended period of time so they can really learn and understand the food before they are server in front of customers talking about the food. My staff are also taught to become constant observers so that they can anticipate the needs of a customer and not react. In that way, we are continually challenging ourselves to see if we can exceed a customer’s expectations.”

Black has found success with a similar thought process when she is hiring. “I don’t hire traditional servers.  I hire nice and really smart people who can help grow this company and share its message. When you hire people like that, the power of small business lies in harnessing their creativity and their minds to make this business even better.”

Lubbat adds another dimension to hiring. “Part of our charm and success lies in the longevity of many of our employees. We stress that we are family and family tries to keep each other happy and take care of each other.  When there is a bump in the road, the first priority becomes taking care of the customer first, then deal with any issues at the end of shift. I empower my staff with the responsibility and leeway to fix problems themselves.”

Know Your Customer, Product and Market

With years of customer service experience, Hamile has learned to not to compete with the broader market. “I identify a market and recognize what’s not here yet so I can fill a void or a niche. I research my competition to see what they are doing and make sure that I am meeting my customers’ needs by giving them something they don’t have the ability to replicate anywhere else or at home. I also take time to really listen to and consider my customers’ input, which then becomes the genesis for any changes if needed. For example, this area is saturated with certain foods, so we retooled the current menu and kitchen staff to accommodate that menu so customers are getting something that has no comparison anywhere else.”

Lubbat emphasizes the power of reading a customer. “People pick Dinotto because they are comfortable and know they will be taken care of. I know the little things add up in creating loyalty, that perfect martini for a stressed-out mom and crayons for her child.  Maybe it’s a special menu request; as long as the ingredients are in the kitchen, we’ll make it. Customers are spending money here, so we do what it takes, food, service, atmosphere, you name it, to keep them coming back.”

Black attributes the customer and market study that went into FOODE’s business plan as a pillar of their success. “We studied the local customer base in detail, knowing that would be the bulk of our business and that we couldn’t rely solely on tourists. We figured out what they wanted and what the area needed. We let customers know up front, in our print materials and from our host, what we are about.  It’s a break from tradition for some people, but they love it. We also reward our locals with a ten percent discount if they live in our local zip code.”

Cultivate your Atmosphere

At Dinotto, Lubbat recognizes that people go out to eat to have an experience that they can’t have in their own home. “Atmosphere is vital to a restaurant; it’s a stage and a theatre experience where we can show off what we can do. So we make it special by accommodating the seasons and the holidays with our décor.  We also recognize the importance of the right music and lighting in getting the mood right. It’s always a work in progress, but we want to keep it fresh for our customers.”

Hamile at Vine approaches atmosphere under his umbrella of attainable perfection. “I think about it from every angle before I start something.  I never want to start something that won’t be sustainable from the beginning. An example is table flowers. Which flowers can we keep doing over and over that are economically feasible in the long run? I never want to eliminate something that will detract from a customer’s experience.”

Outside the Box Thinking Pays Off

Black credits a non-traditional concept with helping to create a unique and functional atmosphere.  At FOODE, a host greets you with menus, takes you to a table and gets you settled in with utensils and a drink.  After you order from the counter, a runner brings your food to you, and a self-service bar is there for drink refills and whatever else you might need. “In order to put the money into the food, we had to give up something when it came to tableside service and table element costs. For us, it’s more valuable to give you great food in a relaxed atmosphere so that we might see you again.”

Hamile relies only on word of mouth advertising. “If you’re good, you are busy.  An aggressive marketing campaign makes you wonder if people are coming in because of your food or because of the campaign. My customers are loyal and cutting edge, so I know they are sharing their experiences with others.”

When it comes to monitoring the restaurant, Lubbat immerses himself in a different role in the restaurant on a rotating basis.

I rotate through roles so I’m well aware of everything that’s going on. I spend a lot of time in different places, but not on a predictable schedule. This helps me maintain good relationships with everyone, front and back of house, and also allows me to put out little fires ASAP.” 

Indie retailers can always look outside their own industry for ideas to make their businesses grow and thrive. Next time you go out to eat, ask yourself what you can learn from your favorite corner restaurant.

Written by Amy Knebel. 

Photo Details: Winter Park, Florida 

Kizer & Bender Introduce New “Top Performers” Webinar Club

March 25, 2015 (Parker, CO) - KIZER & BENDER – professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business – introduced a “Top Performers” Webinar Club. While anyone is welcomed to participate in their webinars, their Top Performers club will be limited to 100 participants – making this an exclusive opportunity to gain valuable experience from two of today’s top retail thought leaders and customer service professionals.

We’re thrilled to extend our presentations and consulting through these monthly webinars, and look forward to connecting with retailers from across the country,” shared Georganne Bender, one half of the retail duo KIZER & BENDER.

KIZER & BENDER are well known for their unique and intensive consumer research and are known to actually become the customers they are researching through their hands-on research. Through yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine… and likely, many you can’t even imagine! Their results deliver research that is literally straight from the customers’ mouth- bringing quality insight to retailers that can’t be found anywhere else. As part of their Top Performers Webinar Club – a value at only $99 for one year – merchants can expect to gain from their unique research, as well as learn a variety of other valuable retail strategies and insight. Topics to be discussed within the various webinars include gaining sales and profits, management training, customer service and more.

As a Top Performer Club member, merchants will gain unlimited access to webinars for an entire year. To learn about KIZER & BENDER and how you can become a TOP PERFORMER member or simply join one of their many webinars, click here. 

# # #

5 Ways to Avoid Markdowns on Your Inventory

It’s bound to happen one of these days if it hasn’t already… you will have inventory that simply isn’t selling. Very few retailers never experience this, so let’s consider what you can do to avoid it becoming a big issue.

For starters, never let managing your inventory fall behind on your to-do-list. Between employee relations to merchandising to promotional marketing to social media and more, we know you have a lot to do. But balancing your inventory to sell should always stay top of mind. Below, consider how these pointers can help you:

1. Place Product in Key Focal Points. Merchandising product in primary sight locations throughout the store can draw attention to and highlight goods that are ideal for immediate sales. This is particularly important for high-volume, time-specific selling periods such as holidays or changes in weather for apparel retailers.

2. Purchase “Season-less” Product. Relying on manufacturers that provide products that are non-seasonal and can be sold year-round is a trend in the market, especially as the seasons and weather patterns are no longer consistent. For stores carrying apparel, this means maintaining a product assortment that can be layered and worn year round. For other stores, this may mean finding everyday staples that customers want year-round. Develop a base of basic, neutrally colored items that will be consistent in your store, allowing more “pops” of color and styles with seasonal goods.

3. Rely on Re-Orders. Working with manufacturers that have immediate availability allows the retailer to replenish goods on an as-needed basis. Most manufacturers have minimum orders but also accept a “test” order that allows the retailer to determine if a product is a good fit without investing a large portion of their budget. Once the product starts to sell, the ability to replenish in season allows for the opportunity to react to demand and create higher margins within season.

4. Plan Events for Increased Sales. Creating special events, promotions or parties to elevate sales on specific items – especially seasonal goods – helps to create buzz and increased sell-through… thus alleviating mark-downs. Most manufacturers are open to creative options to generate sales, including consignment sales on product sent for an event and even sending sales support to help educate customers and staff.

5. Strengthen Core Customer Relationships. Developing store loyalty with customers is integral in creating interest in your store’s product. Being aware of key customers that support specific brands or items in your store allows for targeted selling and can even result in sales before product hits the floor. The ability to special order products from retailers can allow for a strong customer following that appreciates their ability to order goods specific to their needs. Encourage this extra TLC among your sales team and ultimately, your customers.

Another tip? Though a bit off the markdown wagon, be sure to  stay dedicated to your store reputation.

Many people shop at one place versus another simply due to the reputation a store has. Take pride in your store and the people who work for you. Set high expectations of your customer service, store merchandising, in-store events, community involvement and product assortment. It’s your responsibility to deliver the best you can and make changes when things are not working. Customers take notice of this, and in return they keep returning to your store. That alone will help avoid markdowns.

Finally, don’t neglect your point of sale and how it can help you manage your inventory. Discover Retail Minded’s choice for POS companies our Resource Guide here, and be sure to use your own POS to manage, review and analyze data again and again and again to help keep sales moving and markdowns low.